Daily Kickoff 9.30.22
What you need to know

Columbus forward Cucho Hernández suspended one game: Major League Soccer has suspended Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernández for one match for the use of offensive language in Columbus' match against the Portland Timbers on Sept. 18. Hernández will serve the one-match suspension on Oct. 1 vs. the New York Red Bulls. Hernández was not provided with the league-mandated training on prohibited language that is required of all players upon arrival to an MLS team.

Charlotte FC near deal with Lattanzio to remove interim coach tag: Charlotte FC are in the final stages of a deal that’d make Christian Lattanzio their full-time head coach and remove his interim tag, a source confirmed to MLSsoccer.com. The contract, reported by TopBin90’s Tyler Trent to last three years, would settle one of the biggest questions surrounding the expansion club heading into the 2023 MLS season, their second year in the league.

Toronto FC host Inter Miami: The Reds are out of the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs race but can still play spoiler as they host Inter Miami tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on MLS LIVE on ESPN+ and TSN.

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THE WATCHGRIDOMETER IS FINALLY HOME

FINALLY. The September international break is over and we can get back to what really matters. And good news! The Watchgridometer is back too, to guide you through each game’s watchability (plusometer) and importance to the playoff race (playoffocity). Their combined score determines their place on the grid. 

Look: Tier One games = good, Tier Three games = great. That’s all you need to know. 

*The Plusometer is a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on MLS LIVE on ESPN+, but can and will also be used for all other channels. Using the elements of "Potential for very good/entertainingly bad soccer," "Chances created," "NARRATIVE," "Aesthetics" and "Totally subjective bonus points," I assign each element a score out of 10 and each game a score out of 50. Twenty-five is average potential. Fifty is greatest game of all-time potential. Yes, I do actually calculate each game. No, I don't know why. Respect for the form, maybe?

TIER ONE: THE DELIGHTFUL HUM OF A SOCCER BROADCAST ON TELEVISION
Soccer is nice to have on. And sometimes you look up and see something fun.

Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas

  • WHEN: Sat., 3:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: UniMas, TUDN, Twitter
  • Plusometer Score: 22/50
  • Playoffocity: 20/50

FC Dallas enter the weekend three points ahead of Nashville for third place in the West and four points ahead of the Galaxy for a home playoff spot. All they have to do here is get a win and they’re locked into a home playoff spot.

FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 28/50
  • Playoffocity: 10/50

FC Cincinnati aren’t completely safe, but they do feel like they’re coasting toward the finish line here. And hey, a couple of wins might just end up putting them in a home playoff spot if they catch a break. They’ve just got to take care of business against Chicago and D.C. teams that are already eliminated from the playoffs. Cincy, of all teams, feels like a safe bet right now.

CF Montréal vs. D.C. United

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 20/50
  • Playoffocity: 0/50

There’s a very small chance Philly lose out and CF Montréal win out to get first place in the East. But, like, c’mon.

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Nashville SC vs. Houston Dynamo FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 8:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 24/50
  • Playoffocity: 18/50

Nashville seem pretty safe at this point, but could go ahead and lock themselves into a playoff spot with a win. They’ve still got a lot of work to do to bring a home playoff game to GEODIS Park, though.

TIER TWO: THE JOY OF STUMBLING ONTO A MATCH YOU PREVIOUSLY WEREN'T INVESTED IN BUT NOW ARE
Every now and then, you go into a game not asking for much and come away with more than you ever imagined.

Toronto FC vs. Inter Miami CF

  • WHEN: Fri., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+, TSN
  • Plusometer Score: 30/50
  • Playoffocity: 35/50
  • The Daily Kickoff "I don't know what's gonna happen but something's gonna happen" Game of the Week

Toronto are kind of a perfect entertainment value team for games like this. Yeah, the team who’s actually in the playoff race is probably going to be mostly in control because Toronto can’t play defense. But they still have enough firepower to have you worried that the team actually in the playoff race might get burned for a wondergoal at any moment. And Inter Miami need to not get burned tonight. The Herons enter the weekend seventh in the East.

New England Revolution vs. Atlanta United

  • WHEN: Sat., 1:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: UniMas, TUDN, Twitter
  • Plusometer Score: 29/50
  • Playoffocity: 45/50
  • THUNDERDOME!!!
  • The Daily Kickoff "That Train Scene In 'The Fugitive’" Game of the Week

I’m pretty sure this is our first Thunderdome game of the year. Two teams enter, only one will leave with any shred of playoff hope intact. Actually, maybe neither will depending on what Inter Miami and Columbus do this weekend! What a magical time of the year.

Anyway, Atlanta have all the momentum here and a better chance of pulling off the minor miracle of making the playoffs. But that’s never stopped an Atlanta team from face-planting before.

Charlotte FC vs. Philadelphia Union

  • WHEN: Sat., 5:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 30/50
  • Playoffocity: 37/50

Charlotte are still technically alive! And with three games to play, there’s a genuine chance they could pull off a miracle here. All they have to do to get that started is beat a Philadelphia team on the verge of a second Supporters’ Shield title in four years.

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls

  • WHEN: Sat., 7:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 33/50
  • Playoffocity: 40/50

The Crew will be without Cucho Hernandez and will be trying to keep their playoff hopes at full throttle against one of the best defensive and best road teams in the league. For one of the single worst attacking teams in MLS, this feels like it’s not ideal. For the Red Bulls, it feels like a chance to go ahead and lock down a home playoff spot. Because it is. A win gets them a home game.

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San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota United FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 31/50
  • Playoffocity: 40/50

The Loons are in trouble. They enter the weekend seventh in the West and their form has been nosediving. Maybe the international break helped them reset. 

What’s fun about the West right now is we can say all of the above and be correct, and then turn around and say that if Minnesota get it together they can totally get a home playoff spot and also be correct. They’re only two points behind fourth-place Nashville.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Austin FC

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 33/50
  • Playoffocity: 30/50

The Caps aren’t dead yet but they need a whole lot of breaks to go their way. They’ve also got to win out. Starting off with Austin is a tough task. Even if Austin are basically guaranteed the West’s No. 2 spot.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders FC

  • WHEN: Sun., 5:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: FS1, FOX Deportes
  • Plusometer Score: 33/50
  • Playoffocity: 23/50

Seattle are keeping the faintest of playoff hopes alive here. They’re practically microscopic. But then again, this is Seattle. I want an official announcement before I declare any kind of time of death. A hot SKC team may just provide that.

TIER THREE: THE SATISFACTION OF EXPECTATIONS BEING MET
Sometimes you want the best and you get it.

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake

  • WHEN: Sat., 10:30 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 38/50
  • Playoffocity: 48/50
  • The Daily Kickoff MLS LIVE on ESPN+ Game Of The Week

The first of two games that put RSL as the single-most important team in MLS over the next two weeks. RSL enter in eighth place, just three points behind the fifth-place Galaxy. The Galaxy are one point from a home playoff spot. This is about as genuine a six-pointer as you’re going to get and nearly every team in the West will be keeping a very close eye on this one.

New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC

  • WHEN: Sun., 1:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
  • Plusometer Score: 39/50
  • Playoffocity: 46/50

Orlando can either take a big step toward a playoff spot AND maybe even take a big step toward catching NYCFC for a home playoff spot, OR have a loss throw the window wide open for Inter Miami and Columbus to send the Lions below the line. Especially considering Orlando’s next two games are Inter Miami and Columbus. The Lions could seriously use a win here.

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Portland Timbers vs. LAFC

  • WHEN: Sun., 3:00 pm ET
  • WATCH ON: ABC, ESPN Deportes
  • Plusometer Score: 47/50
  • Playoffocity: 42/50
  • The Daily Kickoff National Game of the Week

LAFC are looking for a second-ever Supporters’ Shield tile. Portland are looking to keep their head above water amid the chaos of the West. Providence Park is going to be insane. You really shouldn’t need a whole lot of encouragement to watch this.

AND OTHER THINGS

Chicharito says he'll be back with LA Galaxy in 2023: Speaking to reporters Thursday outside team practice, the star Mexican striker alluded to the terms of his contract to guarantee that he'll be back next season.

THE READING RAINBOW
Full Time
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Good luck out there. Travel in style.